Sales training and sales enablement both empower salespeople with the skills and resources they need to close more deals. But that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. The specific ways these programs support your revenue organization — from onboarding and skill-building to quota-setting and tool implementation — are very different. Switch one for the other, and your team will notice gaps quickly.
To help you better understand the differences between sales training and sales enablement, we’ll take a detailed look at what they are, including the key advantages and disadvantages of both.
Sales Enablement Defined
Sales enablement is all about providing sales reps and sales managers alike with the information, content, and tools they need to perform at the highest possible level.
This includes details about the buyer’s journey and buyer personas, enablement content such as sales call templates and product guides, and tools designed to optimize an organization’s sales process.
3 Focal Points of the Sales Enablement Process
Continually Improving the Sales Process
In many ways, the sales enablement team serves as the research and development branch of a sales department, regularly looking into new strategies, market updates, tools, and tactics that are designed to optimize a company’s sales performance. Here are some specific duties these teams execute:
- Providing reps with the right content for achieving specific sales goals
- Researching vital information regarding buyer personas and demographics
- Implementing new processes and strategies for reps to employ
Testing and Implementing Effective Technology
Today, a wide range of tools and technologies are available to support and enhance sales work, including tools that automate time-consuming data entry, help reps easily communicate with customers across channels, let reps organize their daily schedules, and much more.
With so many options to choose from, selecting the right tools for the job can sometimes be a challenge. By continually testing new technology and helping implement the solutions that are found to be most effective, sales enablement can ensure that an organization’s salespeople are always armed with the most effective and up-to-date sales solutions.
Tracking and Utilizing Data Analytics
Monitoring sales metrics and KPIs is one of the most effective ways for sales teams to gauge their performance and identify areas where there’s room for improvement. However, there’s not much time built into a sales manager’s or rep’s day-to-day to study data, and they may not have the know-how to build these tracking systems or diagnose and fix data-collection errors.
By shifting this responsibility to sales enablement, organizations can ensure that they are taking a data-driven approach to their sales cycle while freeing up reps and sales managers to focus on what they do best.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sales Enablement
By and large, an effective sales enablement strategy can prove highly beneficial for most organizations. Companies see a significant impact on sales due to sales enablement efforts. According to G2, “76% of organizations see an increase in sales between 6% to 20%.”
That said, sales enablement programs also have some potential drawbacks. Let’s explore the pros and cons of implementing a sales enablement program.
Advantages of Sales Enablement
- Marketing and sales unity: Sales enablement serves as a bridge between an organization’s marketing team and its sales team, facilitating coordination between the two toward the goal of boosting revenue. For example, a sales enablement team and marketing team can share customer insights and data to create enablement content like blog posts or product guides. Reps can direct customers to these valuable resources throughout the sales journey.
- Increase in sales efficiency: A core sales enablement responsibility is to improve a company’s sales process from bottom to top. It all starts with ensuring that sales reps can complete their tasks in the most efficient way possible. When reps can seamlessly find customer details, share resources, perform outreach, and input notes, they have more time and energy to use their training, nurture customer relationships, and close deals.
- Higher performing sales managers: Sales enablement can boost the performance of an organization’s sales managers in two different ways. For one, sales enablement teams can provide sales managers with the tools and information they need to oversee and support their employees. A sales enablement team can also take on many of the responsibilities that would typically fall to sales managers. In turn, managers can focus on 1:1 coaching and have time for the impromptu teaching moments that help build sales skills.
Disadvantages of Sales Enablement
- The increased cost of a sales department: Sales enablement teams don’t work for free. Therefore, the biggest and most obvious drawback to implementing a sales enablement program is that it is sure to raise expenses for your sales department.
- A longer chain of command could cause delays: Having a sales enablement program means that there will be more chefs in the kitchen at your sales department. While it can be helpful to have more hands and minds on the job, a longer chain of command could potentially create delays by requiring the approval of more managers and executives before a new process, program, or solution can be implemented.
- Requires thoughtful implementation and communication: We’ve talked about the ways that sales enablement can lighten the load for your sales team. However, implementing sales enablement measures can be a challenge in and of itself since effective sales enablement typically requires testing, training, learning, and implementing new tools and strategies. Companies must be mindful of not changing too many elements at once and making the selling experience confusing or laborious.
Sales Training Defined
Sales training is the process of teaching sales reps selling skills and strategies that will help them generate more closed deals. While the sales rep onboarding process is one element of sales training, it’s equally important to provide ongoing training to all members of your sales team. This can be in the form of one-on-one training, peer group meetings, certification programs, and more.
4 Focal Points of the Sales Training Process
Optimized Processes for Maximum Efficiency and Sales
In a sales enablement vs. sales training comparison, one area where these two programs overlap is the goal of making your sales team more robust.
While sales enablement focuses on discovering and testing new tactics and strategies, sales training focuses on providing instruction and hands-on exercises so reps can put them into practice. This is all driving toward helping reps reach their quotas more often and maximize deal size for each type of buyer.
Ongoing Education for Sales Representatives
According to data from Business 2 Community, 84% of the training that sales reps receive during the onboarding process is forgotten within the first three months of employment. If the onboarding process is the only training you provide to your reps, there’s a good chance that their knowledge retention will not be up to par.
By implementing an ongoing sales training program, you can ensure that your reps receive the education they need to keep their skills sharp.
Deal coaching is another focal point of sales training. It’s all about helping your reps properly qualify the opportunity at hand, understand their position with the buyer, and develop a strong action plan for each unique deal — all of which has a more direct impact on win rate compared to other aspects of sales training.
After the deal coaching session, the best sales managers follow up to see the results and distill these insights into best practices for the entire sales organization.
Engaging Sales Kickoffs
You’re definitely familiar with the annual sales kickoff if you’re part of a sales organization. It’s common practice to host a kickoff at the beginning of a new fiscal year or upon launching a new product. This is leadership’s opportunity to share new sales initiatives, train the team on an updated sales process or methodology, gather group feedback, and motivate frontline salespeople. Sales training is often a vital pillar of these kickoff events.
Year-round training is important, but kickoffs are essential for getting everyone under the same roof (virtual or physical) and hyper-focusing on the vital skills for the upcoming year. This may involve having high-performing reps share their winning tactics and reinforce core teachings or bringing in outside experts to offer fresh perspectives.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sales Training
As with sales enablement, the pros of sales training far outweigh the cons. Nevertheless, it is important to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of sales training when deciding if a sales training program is the right choice for your organization.
Advantages of Sales Training
- Sales training can boost revenue: Perhaps the most apparent benefit of sales training is the fact that well-trained salespeople tend to close more deals than reps who have not received thorough training, ultimately boosting your organization’s revenue. In fact, the ROI of sales training stands at roughly 353%, according to data from TaskDrive.
- Great communication tool for discussing process, product, and methodology: Discovering new techniques and methodologies for your sales team is one thing, but sharing and implementing them is an entirely different challenge. Sales training serves as an excellent communication tool for teaching reps about sales enablement processes and methodologies in addition to deepening their knowledge about your core products and use cases. This can increase productivity, employee retention, and more.
- Solves specific problems within your organization: If you identify a performance or process roadblock that’s holding your team back, sales training can be the perfect tool for correcting the issue. Once you’ve pinpointed solutions, you can craft a specific training program or breakout session that equips team members to deal with it effectively. Alternatively, sales training sessions may reveal a skill or education gap and lay the groundwork for new sessions that strengthen your team even further.
Disadvantages of Sales Training
- Cost can be prohibitive: While the ROI of sales training is often quite high, it doesn’t change the fact that creating a top-quality sales training program may require a significant upfront investment that might be difficult for some organizations to stomach. Businesses can save by starting small and using in-house resources. A Sales Assembly membership is another effective way to train your team while keeping costs low. Our program is about 80% less expensive than traditional training programs, and it’s more comprehensive.
- Quality depends on the trainer’s qualifications: The success of a sales training program is somewhat dependent on the trainer conducting the program. If you don’t hire the right trainers — with the combination of industry experience, sales methodology, and interpersonal skills that your team needs — the results may end up not being worth the expense. For help, check out our guide to choosing the right sales training program.
- Takes time away from operations: Creating and leading helpful sales training sessions — and keeping them up to date — can be time-consuming, particularly if you’re starting from scratch. As we’ve covered, sales training is essential, but it’s still worth noting that the time invested here is time taken away from the rest of your sales team‘s operations.
Scale Your Sales Enablement Process With Sales Assembly
At Sales Assembly, we empower B2B tech revenue organizations to skill up, scale up, and sell more with our one-of-a-kind membership. When you join, your team members get access to the industry-leading sales training, certifications, peer connections, and enablement resources they need to improve their performance in no time. To learn more or sign up, contact us today.